Xavier Magazine

Ex-Grid Star Starts Over

It was early spring when Cheryl Dawson made headlines. Not that she wanted to. The single mother of three children was stabbed to death in a downtown Cincinnati parking lot allegedly by her estranged husband, who was stalking her. She made requests for protection and had court orders to keep him away, but it did no good.

And now her three young children are paying the price. They are without their mother. But they are not alone.

The children, ages 3, 5 and 7, were taken in by their grandfather, Walter Mainer, a former Xavier football star and 1966 graduate, along with his wife, Lorrayne. The couple raised eight children of their own, and now are starting over.

“We were talking about retiring in a couple of years, but now we joke about getting a part-time job,” says the 58-year-old Mainer. “We’ll make it. It’s for the children’s sake, and with the grace of God, we shall complete it. Maybe someday they’ll take care of us.”

Mainer’s classmate and football teammate Roger Thesing is collecting contributions for a trust fund set up for the children at Fifth Third Bank—the Dawson Children’s Trust Fund—to offset some of their expenses. It was a move that surprised Mainer.

As for the children, they’re adjusting, Mainer says, but there are issues. The oldest one is angry and keeps asking why his father had to hurt their mother. “What did she ever do to hurt him?” the boy asks his grandpa. And the 3-year-old thinks his mom will come back from Heaven “when her injury is finished.”

“They miss their mother,” Mainer says. “They’re good children, and the tragedy of it is they have no mother or father now. But we’ll do the best we can to offset the loss of both parents.”

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